DraftKings NASCAR: Coke Zero 400

DraftKings NASCAR: Coke Zero 400

This article is part of our NASCAR DFS series.

Coke Zero 400

Location: Daytona, Fla.
Course: Daytona International Speedway
Format: 2.5-mile tri-oval
Laps: 160

Race Preview

The Coke Zero 400 marks the return to Daytona International Speedway, and is a completely different style of racing from last week's Sonoma Raceway. Kevin Harvick notched his first win of the season in that race with excellent race strategy but will come to Daytona with an entirely different mindset. There are only 10 races remaining in the run up to the championship-deciding playoffs, and drivers fighting for the dwindling spots remaining will look at Daytona as one of the venues they could spring into championship contention. Kurt Busch was the one who made his restrictor-plate breakthrough in February to claim his first win at the superspeedway, while Harvick led the most laps. Chase Elliott was also a contender that day with 39 laps led, but only one lap matters for the win and it was Busch who captured it. Chevrolet and Ford had a distinct advantage at the track back then, but Toyota has since made up ground. Ford dominated the finishing order last week in Sonoma, but Toyota will likely be more competitive this time around.

Key Stats at Sonoma Raceway

Number of previous races: 28
Winners from pole: 5
Winners from top-5 starters: 15
Winners from top-10 starters: 20
Winners from 21st or lower starters: 2
Fastest race: 83.624 mph

Last 10 Daytona Winners

2017 spring - Kurt Busch
2016 fall - Brad Keselowski
2016 spring - Denny Hamlin
2015 fall - Dale Earnhardt Jr.
2015 spring - Joey Logano
2014 fall - Aric Almirola
2014 spring - Dale Earnhardt Jr.
2013 fall - Jimmie Johnson
2013 spring - Jimmie Johnson
2012 fall - Tony Stewart

Putting together a car that is aerodynamic in the lead and capable of making passes in the draft will be paramount to success this week. The cooler track temperature of night racing at the circuit should improve handling a bit over what the drivers experienced under the sun in February. Still, Daytona isn't Talladega Superspeedway, and the narrower track won't let teams forget about overall handling and tire wear throughout a fuel run. We've seen teams play strategy early in the races so far this season to pick up valuable playoff points in the stage format, and no one has been better at doing so than Martin Truex Jr.'s Furniture Row Racing. Early pit strategy could jumble the order through the first two stages of Saturday night's race, but drivers with the most power and sleekest aerodynamics likely will find their way to the front of the field no matter what point in the race they happen to be in. Qualifying will be a good gauge for fantasy owners to measure a driver's potential speed for Saturday, but starting position (as usual on restrictor-plate tracks) can be used to garner valuable fantasy points since the race winner could come from virtually anywhere in the field.

(Based on Standard $50K Salary Cap)

DraftKings Tier 1 Values

Brad Keselowski - $10,400
Dale Earnhardt Jr. - $10,300
Joey Logano - $10,000

DraftKings Tier 2 Values

Martin Truex Jr. - $9,700
Kyle Busch - $9,600
Kevin Harvick - $9,500
Kurt Busch - $9,100

DraftKings Tier 3 Values

Clint Bowyer - $8,800
Chase Elliott - $8,600
Ryan Blaney - $8,500
Jamie McMurray - $8,100

DraftKings Long-Shot Values

Austin Dillon - $7,900
Erik Jones - $7,400
Ryan Newman - $6,700
Chris Buescher - $5,900


Lower-Risk Lineup ($50K Salary Cap)

Dale Earnhardt Jr. - $10,300
Joey Logano - $10,000
Kevin Harvick - $9,500
Jimmie Johnson - $9,000
Chris Buescher - $5,900
David Ragan - $5,200

The Coke Zero 400 will be Earnhardt's final appearance at Daytona as a full-time driver, and it wouldn't be a surprise to see him get the win an entry into the season-ending playoffs. He has had an impressive career at the speedway with four wins and more than half of his finishes being top-10s, and he topped the field to start from pole on Saturday. Logano has turned around the slump he endured since Richmond with a third-place finish at Michigan and a 12th last week in Sonoma. He should be a top consideration for fantasy owners with three consecutive top-10 finishes at Daytona heading into this week's race. While it's always difficult to score back-to-back wins in Monster Energy Cup, Harvick is no stranger to the feat. He only has one points win at Daytona, but is one of the best racers in the draft. Johnson comes at a bargain this week. If he successfully avoids trouble at Daytona he usually finishes at the front. He has three wins at the track, but crashed out of the last two races there. The current season has been a significant step forward in performance for Buescher. He's a consistent top-20 finisher, and with better equipment at his disposal he should continue to improve on that average. Another driver not to overlook this week is Ragan. He typically performs above expectations at Daytona, and two top-10 finishes from his last six starts there is proof.

Higher-Risk Lineup
($50K Salary Cap)

Denny Hamlin - $9,900
Kyle Busch - $9,600
Kurt Busch - $9,100
Clint Bowyer - $8,800
Elliott Sadler - $6,300
Brendan Gaughan - $4,900

Daytona's higher-risk lineup puts a bit more emphasis on Toyota. That is a risk since they were outperformed by Ford and Chevrolet at this track in February, but they've improved since then. Still, it will take some work since the highest Toyota starter will be Kenseth in 13th. Teammates Hamlin and Kyle Busch lead the charge, and both are gunning for their first win of the season. Busch has never won a points race at this track, but it may be time. His brother Kurt Busch finally made his Daytona breakthrough in February. His results dipped since that victory, but he is back in step now with three top-10 finishes in the last five races. Clint Bowyer has also been battling inconsistency, but his second-place finish at Sonoma is a confidence booster and was quick at Daytona earlier this season before a crash ended his afternoon. Part-time driver Sadler is another driver who could have done more in February but he has a chance for redemption this week. He led five laps in February, and it wouldn't be shocking to see him add to that tally this week. Finally, Gaughan has only four Daytona starts, but he finished 11th in February. Fantasy owners should expect a decent haul of points from his finish differential at a minimum, and a top-15 or top-20 finishing position should come as icing on the cake.

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C.J. Radune
Radune covers NASCAR, Formula 1 and soccer for RotoWire. He was named the Racing Writer of the Year by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association in 2012 and 2015.
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